What I really like about the Confluence concert series is that sometimes they do music that I love and sometimes they do stuff that’s completely unfamiliar to me and which I almost invariably enjoy. Last night’s streamed concert came into the second category. It was curated by Patricia O’Callaghan and featured the music of Astor Piazzolla who reinvented the tango and the Andean roots influenced music of Mercedes Sosa. Tangos are great fun of course but I was more struck by the music of Sosa who spoke for the voiceless and oppressed of dictatorship Argentina in the same way that Victor Juara spoke for the Chilean underclass. Fortunately for her she didn’t share his fate though she was forced into exile. The music was interwoven with spoken texts from the likes of Borges read by Diego Matamoros and the visual art of Kevork Mourad. All in all a very intriguing program.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s 2014 cycle of the Da Ponte operas continues with Don Giovanni. The recording has much in common with his Le nozze di Figaro, even down to the same essay in the booklet, and I’m not going to repeat what I wrote in that review. If you haven’t read it, I recommend a look before reading the rest of this.
Watching the recently released recording of the 2017 production of Giodarno’s Andrea Chénier from La Scala had me wondering why this piece isn’t done more often. If it had been written by Puccini, and it might well have been, it would get done as often as Tosca, with which it has many similarities. In the conscience stricken revolutionary Gérard it has one of the few multi-dimensional characters in verismo opera and the music, for Chénier in particular, has all the qualities that people listen to Puccini for. I guess perhaps one needs at least a rough understanding of the events of the French revolution to really follow the plot as Giodarno, unlike Puccini, roots his work in actual history but still. Opera fashion is very odd.(*)
My “Final Word” article which appeared in the last print edition of Opera Canada has now been published on-line. It looks at how audience experience of on-line content during the pandemic may impact the marketing and production strategies of both larger and smaller opera companies.
It seems like Ontario is changing its policy on what’s open and what’s not and who gets vaccinated and who doesn’t about three times/week right now and, among other things, it’s playing havoc with the creation of on-line content.
Rachel Krehm and co’s latest project Threepenny Submarine is now live on the Opera 5 Youtube channel. It’s a collaboration between Opera 5 and Gazelle Automations and features two (puppet) singers on a quest in a submarine. It stars Caitlin Wood as a Rossini singing cockatiel with a tidiness fetish, which doesn’t seem terribly like Cait (at least the tidiness thing. Of course she can sing Rossini), and Rachel Krehm as a messy Wagnerian vixen, which sounds about right. It’s designed for kids but it’s quite funny and very cute and should work for kids of all ages.
The week of April 12th the COC is streaming a series called Exploring New Opera. It’s slanted to young audiences and those new to opera and deals with aspects of the in-development piece Fantasma by Ian Cusson and Colleen Murphy. It’s all free and doesn’t require pre-registration.
Back in 2014 Nikolaus Harnoncourt launched a project to present all three Mozart/da Ponte operas, concert style, on the stage of the Theater an der Wien in a single month. They are now being released on DVD/Blu-ray. The first is Le nozze di Figaro and it comes with a 52 minute documentary by Felix Breisach; Nikolaus Harnoncourt – Between Obsession and Perfection – part 1.
Here’s a round up of the latest on-line material to come my way:
From the Kingston Symphony, Opera 5 and all things Krehm/Mitchell plus assorted animated animals… the concluding episodes of Harmon in Space (available now) and a new project, premiering April 7th; Threepenny Submarine featuring puppets from Gazelle Automation, sopranos Rachel Krehm and Caitlin Wood and a chamber ensemble led by Evan Mitchell.
From Against the Grain… a continuation of the run of Messiah/Complex and a live chat “Making of” at 7pm tonight.
From Soundstreams… Electric Messiah is available again until April 11th.
From Calgary Opera… Opera Labs, a series devoted to innovation in opera. The first film is about Namwayut; a collaborative composition featuring, among others, Marion Newman, Yvette Nolan, Ian Cusson and Asitha Tennekoon.
Everything is on Youtube except the Calgary project.
It’s that time of year again. The IRCPA is looking for young professional singers for their annual Encounter which offers ten singers free coaching, career advice and a concert; Ten Singing Stars – New Generation.. This year’s mentor is Canadian baritone Theodore Baerg. The encounter session will happen on May 21st in downtown Toronto and the concert will be on June 4th or 11th at a location tbd depending on the public health situation prevailing. There’s a link to the application process at ircpa.net.